Stories in my Pocket: On Expecting and the Unexpected (Part 6)

For the backstory: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

He'd been home five weeks when I stole away in the tight-lipped fog. Even the oarsmen slept as I passed the spires of Georgetown high above the river, escaping the city's bustle before it began, en route to meet my three day old niece. There were butterflies in my stomach, and three weeks of life in my womb.

Unaccustomed to an empty beltway, I drove as fast as my heart was beating. Apparently, that was too fast.

"Where are you headed in such a hurry?" the officer asked, rhetorically perhaps, but I gave him my literal reply.

"My sister just had a baby and I'm going to see her. I didn't realize I was speeding."

I got off with a warning.
How ridiculous, I thought, this urge to tell him that I'm going to have a baby too. 

I hugged my sister, held my niece, and heard them cry at different times and for different reasons. I didn't know how to help or what to do to make the crying stop, so I did a load of laundry and changed an inaugural diaper. And I told Robin she was amazing and it was going to be fine. And I wondered if I would be fine too, when my turn came.

I snuck upstairs when the La Leche lady arrived with her ample opinions, enough to ensure my little sis had a lifetime supply of motherguilt. I pulled from the shelf a copy of What to Expect When You're Expecting and devoured the first three chapters while the Lactation Nazi offered "encouragement".

I called my husband and half-whispered into the phone. We'd only had hours of knowing together before I left for Ohio, and I was desperate to talk to the one person on earth who knew my growing secret.


Over a month later, he was released from active duty to begin the cerebral battle with the Step I, a licensing exam growing exponentially formidable as his coursework faded further away in memory and time.

"I think I'm gonna head over to Rick's tomorrow and help him tackle that tree. He wants to get most of it into firewood--might be an all day job. I should be studying, but it's one day. And he'd do it for me." 

"Maybe I'll meet you there after work, if you're still there." I was far along enough to have told a few close friends, and Becky was one of them. 

When I arrived, she answered the door wearing PJs and her baby boy. It was a typical day of fussing and fighting sleep for Max, born as many days ago as I was pregnant. And it was a typical day of exhaustion for my friend. We caught up over chicken chili in between bouts of soothing and feeding and turning him every which way in the Bjorn. One thing was clear--Max didn't like his Mama to sit down.

That was the last typical day I remember, before the unexpected came barreling down out of the sunniest sky, drenching us toward the very danger of drowning.

Click here to continue reading Part 7.

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